The Last Gift From Mom

"Look, I made these earrings," said mom proudly as she entered my room.

I looked up from my phone to her bright and smiling face. It had been a long time since I've observed my mother's face. Over the years I rarely saw her because she worked a lot and I lived away from home for a while. Something about her face seemed different. It looked older, skinnier, and more pale than I remembered.

"I designed these myself. They're for you. You can have them," she said holding out a pair of earrings.

"Okay, thanks mom," I replied nonchalantly as I took them from her. 

I briefly examined the earrings before placing them on top of my dresser where I kept the rest of my jewelry. They looked like any other Hmong silver earrings out there. They were plain, sort of vintage, and definitely out of style, but at least they matched my Hmong-inspired necklace. I could wear them together.

My mother always had a thing for jewelry. She loved jewelry and collected much of it. When my sisters and I were younger, she would buy us accessories such as copper bracelets for protection, gold-plated Thai earrings, Hmong jewelry, and even solid gold necklaces. I lost most of them while growing up. Some broke while others got stolen.

It's been years since my mom had gifted me anything. I know she would give me the best things if she could, but she was the only person working to support our household and it had been that way for a long time. She worked hard but barely made just enough to cover the bills. Therefore, I was taken by surprise when she gave me earrings out of the blue. Hecks, I didn't even know she knew how to make jewelry.

Looking back, I never gave my mom enough credit. She was creative and talented. She was good at sewing, crafting, and many other things. Perhaps that's where I got my creativity from. I should have complimented her more for her accomplishments and creations, including the earrings she gave me that day, because little did I know that it was going be the last gift I would receive from her.

Later that year, although she was only in her early 40s, still young and healthy, my mother passed away. She died at the hands of my father, her estranged husband whom she had separated from for several months. They were in the middle of their divorce, and she had a restraining order against him because he was abusive and had made several death threats towards her. Even though the courts forbade him to come near her, it didn't stop him from trying. He tried breaking into our house a few times. Twice she reported it to the police, but my father faced no consequences. A week after the second report, he broke into our home when nobody else was around except my mom, and took her life. 

It was a Saturday morning when I discovered my mother's still body lying on the floor of her bedroom. I worked late the night before and did not get home until around 9 p.m, so I didn't check up on my mom until that morning. When I opened the door to her room, I saw her on the floor, still in her work uniform, lying face up with her eyes closed. She was there but the room felt so empty, and I found it unusual that she was sleeping on the ground instead of on her bed.

"Maybe she was tired from work and knocked out like that. I should let her sleep," I thought to myself. 

I backed out into the hall and slowly closed the door. I turned away from the door and was about to walk back to my room to get ready for work, but something just didn't feel right so I turned back and opened the door again.When I re-entered the bedroom, I walked up to my mom. In an attempt to wake her up, I bent over, grabbed her left shoulder, and lightly shook her.

"Mom...wake up‐"

Her body felt cold and still. She didn't open her eyes nor respond. I observed her closely and discovered dried blood on her neck. My heart pounded as I realized what possibly happened. Then, I saw something shiny in her right hand. It was a metal handgun. It looked like the gun had been plotted there to make it seem like she committed suicide. I knew my mom didn't have a gun, and she would never kill herself. Why would she? She's finally free and happy. 

I screamed for my brother who was still asleep in the room across, "K***!! K***!!!  Come here!!!!". I could tell I startled him by the way he flew out from his room. He took one glance and understood why I was freaking out. I stepped into the hall and called the authorities right away.

Once I've called for help, I went back into the room and kneeled next to my mom as my brother awaited the cops downstairs. I was in tremendous pain but too shocked and scared to cry. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs but I didn't want to add more trauma for my brother who was also probably in shock.

Instead, I raged loudly in my own head, "Mooom, who did this to yooooou?!! We must find justice for you." But truth was, I already knew who had murdered my mother

Later that evening, I received a call from the detective about my dad. They found him deceased inside his vehicle where he had committed suicide. After my mom left my dad and the courts kicked him out of our home, he fell deep into depression. Depression is one of the several mental illnesses he had suffered with all his life. I believe that after losing everything, it led him to this horrible decision.

I was devastated. I knew it was him. How could he do such a horrendous thing and leave like that? How could he do this to us? I had so many unanswered questions.  I was enraged but still, he was my father. Even though he was not the best dad, I would never forget all the things he had done for me as a father and I could never not love him. It felt so surreal losing both of my parents this way. 

My parents' case was domestic violence murder-suicide case that made headlines in our city the next morning. I had to stay away from social media for months. It was too difficult seeing my father's face all over social media and reading the horrible things people wrote about my parents. 

It has been five years since my entire world turned upside down, and five years since my mother had gifted me this pair of earrings. Although I lost one side, I still have the other side, and it will forever be my most cherished treasure.

Last year in 2021, I launched my own handmade jewelry business called Emkay Touch. I finally understand how it feels like to create a pair of earrings and why my mom was so proud of her earrings even though they looked plain. It takes time and effort to design and make a pair of earrings. I know she put a lot of care and love into making them. 

If my mom was still alive, I know she would be so proud of me and she would love the jewelry I make. Some day when I am no longer on this earth, I hope that the people who knew me and bought my jewelry will keep them as a remembrance of me. Although my pieces aren't perfect, please know that I, too, made each piece with my heart and soul.

-Mai Ker Vue (Founder of Emkay Touch


Note: Please click on our home page if you would like to get more info about Emkay Touch and view our products.


The Last Gift From Mom
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Emkay, this story almost brought me to tears reading. I am so sorry for your loss but so grateful that your mother gave you one final thing before she left. What a legacy to uphold and carry on for generations to come. May writing these blogs and making these pieces heal you piece by piece, chapter by chapter.

Halo Zong

Thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry for your loss. Keep shining, your art is amazing.

Yeng Lo

I’ve known you for a long while since we were young and you have always been humbled. Always open to new ideas, creative, caring and independent. Your mother would be proud of your accomplishments as you are of hers. I applaud your courage and proud of you always.


You are as talented as she is!

Mai Lee-Yang

Love you hun. You are humble, beautiful and amazing. Keep on sharing and giving this love.


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